Woolworths reclaims top-dog status in retail pecking order

Jon Condon, 22/09/2011


Supermarket group Woolworths has reclaimed top spot in national beef and veal channel share, inching-out independent butchers as the largest contributor to retail beef sales.

The results are seen in the latest Roy Morgan retail survey of fresh meat sales across Australia, released yesterday.

Woolworths’ strong result in beef and veal did not come at the expense of independent butchers, however – both showed considerable improvement over last month’s figures – it was just that Woolworths improvement was a little stronger than that of butchers.

Figures quoted here are based on three-month rolling averages to July 30 – not individual month performance – which analysts say is less reliable when making comparisons between stakeholders.

Woolworths’ share for the most recent three months has risen to 30.2 percent – up strongly from 28.1.pc a month earlier, but still not as strong as the company’s position this time last year (31.3pc).

After three consecutive months as the largest contributor to retail beef and veal share, independent butchers eased back behind Woolworths in May-July. The still recorded a solid result, however, increasing share to 29.3pc from 28.4pc a month earlier, despite the tough economic/trading environment.  

In this survey, at least, the biggest decline in beef and veal channel share was recorded by Coles, which dropped to 19.5pc for the three months to July, from 21.9pc from the previous survey. This was Coles’ worst performance since the launch of the beef ‘price wars’ between the two major supermarket groups in late 2010, and the establishment of Coles no-HGP policy in January, driven by a major marketing campaign.

Coles at different times in the past has questioned outcomes in the Roy Morgan survey, saying it does not align with its own market assessment work.

Smaller retail market players have shown little change in their recent retail share, but have lost ground to the ‘big three’ over the past year. IGA/Foodland recorded 6.7pc, down from 6.9pc a month ago and 10.1pc from a year earlier. Aldi’s share of 3.4pc has remained unchanged compared to last month and last year, while the market/deli/other category was also steady to softer at 8.4pc share.    

Retail prices

Assessment of fresh red and white meat protein retail prices in the Roy Morgan survey showed lamb has risen 11.6pc in price over the past 12 months and close to 25pc over the past three years, and has now overtaken beef as the most expensive protein.

Lamb is now averaging $16.19/kg at retail, according to the survey. Chicken and pork prices have changed little over the last 12 months, while average beef prices have slipped about 2pc from $16.08/kg to $15.75/kg, clearly reflecting the recent surplus of beef on the domestic market due to lower export demand, and generally flat domestic retail trading conditions. 

Category volume

Not surprisingly, because beef has tended to become a little cheaper over the past year (see above), it has picked up a little volume share in a cautious trading environment.

Beef and veal’s share of all fresh meat serves across Australia has risen from 52.88 million serves a week (May/July quarter 2010), to a record 55.2m/week for the same quarter this year.

The recent surge in volume has seen beef’s share of fresh meat consistently above 40pc for the first time in more than two years.

Lamb’s share has declined over the same period, due to price rises (22.14m versus 20.11m weekly serves), while competitively-priced chicken rose to near-record levels (39.19m up to 41.36m). Pork also showed gains (16.87m versus 18.03m). Chicken currently represents about 30pc of total fresh meat volume, beef +40pc and pork 16pc.

All this suggests there has been a steady rise in all fresh meats consumed over the past five months, currently at 138.52 million serves each week.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -